The Montreal Canadiens haven’t enjoyed the best of times in Western Canada. In fact, the Habs haven’t claimed a victory in the provinces Alberta or British Colombia since November 2003.
But tonight, the Canadiens start a road-trip of Western Canada against the Edmonton Oilers, with the Habs praying that recent history doesn’t repeat itself.
Despite losing 10 straight games in Western Canada, the last Montreal victory came against the Oilers. It wasn’t at Rexall Place, but at Edmonton’s Commonwealth Stadium where the Canadiens won the first Heritage Classic in 2003. As Jacques Martin’s team gear up for this year’s Heritage Classic with the red hot (no pun intended) Calgary Flames, the Habs know it won’t be easy.
The Oilers have already beaten the Habs this season at the Bell Centre in a 4-3 shootout win back in December. Tonight’s game is huge for both teams. Montreal is looking for momentum before the Heritage Classic on Sunday as they try to jump over the Boston Bruins from the top of the Northeast Division. Although the Oilers sit rock bottom of the NHL standings, a win tonight would help them close the gap on the Colorado Avalanche, who have lost nine in a row.
Paul Mara returns to Montreal
The Canadiens welcome back Paul Mara who rejoins Montreal from the Anaheim Ducks. Mara spent time with Montreal last season, and his experience may help the Habs tighten up at the back.
Max Pacioretty has 12 points in his last 11 games, while fellow youngster David Desharnais is hoping to continue a four-game streak.
Jaroslav Spacek is still recovering from a lower-body injury, so rookie Brendon Nash is likely to keep his place in the Habs roster – making Mara’s arrival even more important.
All the focus is on Sunday night’s showdown with the Flames, but the Habs would make things a lot easier on themselves with a win against the struggling Oilers. Calgary blew away the Dallas Stars last night, and have found themselves right in the thick of the Western Conference playoff race.
The Habs are undoubtedly the favorites tonight, but if history is to repeat itself, then Montreal could be in for a long night, and another difficult trip could lie ahead.